`Study Links Mediterranean Diet to Better Memory in Diabetics


Study Links Mediterranean Diet to Better Memory in Diabetics

Jun. 16, 2019
Mary West

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Researchers in Boston found dia­bet­ics might have health­ier brain func­tion if they adhere to a Mediter­ranean diet (Med­Diet). The eat­ing plan was linked to bet­ter mem­ory, word recog­ni­tion and other cog­ni­tive skills.

Both adher­ing to a Mediter­ranean diet and effec­tively man­ag­ing Type 2 dia­betes may sup­port opti­mal cog­ni­tive func­tion.- Har­vard researchers

Con­sum­ing foods and nutri­ents char­ac­ter­is­tic of the Mediter­ranean dietary pat­tern has been con­sis­tently asso­ci­ated with bet­ter cog­ni­tive func­tion among adults and older adults,” Josiemer Mat­tei, assis­tant pro­fes­sor of nutri­tion at the Har­vard T.H. Chan School of Pub­lic Health, and col­leagues wrote.

As con­sum­ing a Mediter­ranean diet has been asso­ci­ated with pre­ven­tion and con­trol of Type 2 dia­betes, this dietary pat­tern may have dual ben­e­fits for both Type 2 dia­betes and cog­ni­tion,” the study’s authors added.

See more: Health News

In the study, Mat­tei and the research team fol­lowed 465 adults with Type 2 dia­betes and 711 adults with­out the dis­ease. The par­tic­i­pants were enrolled in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study from 2004 to 2007.

Using food ques­tion­naires at base­line and at the two-year point, the researchers eval­u­ated adher­ence to the fol­low­ing eat­ing plans: Med­Diet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hyper­ten­sion, Healthy Eat­ing Index and Alter­na­tive Healthy Eat­ing Index. In addi­tion, they mon­i­tored blood glu­cose and assessed cog­ni­tive abil­ity using seven neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal tests.


The results showed a link between stricter adher­ence to the Med­Diet and health­ier cog­ni­tion for Type 2 dia­bet­ics at two years in com­par­i­son to base­line. How­ever, this ben­e­fit was only noted in par­tic­i­pants with sta­ble glu­cose lev­els. When the indi­vid­u­als had poor or declin­ing blood glu­cose con­trol, the link dis­ap­peared.

Mat­tei told Olive Oil Times why the Med­Diet appeared to trump other healthy diets in enhanc­ing cog­ni­tion in dia­bet­ics.

It’s impor­tant to note that the ben­e­fits of the Med­Diet over other healthy diets were noted only among patients with Type 2 dia­betes,” he said. Among those with­out Type 2 dia­betes, all healthy diets equally helped improve mem­ory func­tion.”

Two fac­tors may under­lie the cog­ni­tive ben­e­fits of the Med­Diet in patients with Type 2 dia­betes,” he added. First, a healthy Med­Diet includes antiox­i­dant-rich fruit and veg­eta­bles, as well as fish and nuts; foods that are plen­ti­ful in healthy fats. These nutri­ents help sus­tain cog­ni­tive func­tion by reduc­ing inflam­ma­tion and oxi­da­tion in the brain.”

Sec­ondly, the Med­Diet includes whole grains and legumes that assist in keep­ing blood sugar at healthy lev­els,” Mat­tei con­tin­ued. Keep­ing Type 2 dia­betes con­trolled helps lower meta­bolic oxi­da­tion prod­ucts and sus­tains effi­cient insulin action, which plays a role in cog­ni­tive processes. There­fore, the diet may have dual ben­e­fits on cog­ni­tion and blood sugar con­trol.”

Both adher­ing to a Mediter­ranean diet and effec­tively man­ag­ing Type 2 dia­betes may sup­port opti­mal cog­ni­tive func­tion,” the researchers wrote in their con­clu­sion. Healthy diets, in gen­eral, can help improve mem­ory func­tion among adults with­out Type 2 dia­betes.”

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